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Annual report to the Parliament on coeliac disease (2019 data)

The latest edition of the Ministry of Health’s “Annual report to the Parliament on coeliac disease”, published in March 2021, shows that there were 11,179 new diagnoses of this condition in 2019 (compared to an average annual increase of just under 9000 in recent years), bringing the total number of people diagnosed with coeliac disease in Italy to 225,418.


The steady increase in the number of diagnoses can be attributed to the introduction of official guidelines for the diagnosis of coeliac disease, published in the Official Gazette in 2015, and the organization of diagnostic facilities and reference centres at the local level, agreed between the State and the Regions/Autonomous Provinces in 2017. Nevertheless, only 37% of the around 600,000 people who are estimated to suffer from this condition (1% of the population) have received a diagnosis.


The report also shows that 38,172 public canteens offered gluten-free meals in 2019. These canteens are evenly distributed across the country, in proportion to the number of coealiac patients, which ensures that people can adhere strictly to a gluten-free diet also when having their meals at school or work (e.g. at government offices and facilities and in hospitals).


In Italy, coeliac patients currently receive a State allowance for the purchase of approved gluten-free products listed on a special national registry. The report makes explicit reference to a plan for the quick introduction of an electronic system allowing them to use such allowance also outside their Region or Autonomous Province of residence. This will enable people with coeliac disease  to maintain a safe and varied diet anywhere in the country.


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Publication date: 18 March 2021

Authors: Marco Silano – Dipartimento Sicurezza alimentare, nutrizione e sanità pubblica veterinaria, ISS